Chopper Scam: Finmeccanica Promises Help to CBI
The CBI today met top officials of the Italian government-controlled Finmeccanica group, parent company of AgustaWestland helicopters, who promised assistance in probing bribery allegations against some Indian nationals.

During the meeting, CBI officials requested the Italian firm to handover the report of its internal probe to them so that it could be examined in India and a proper investigation could be conducted, official sources said.

The sources said the joint team of the CBI and Defence Ministry officials were assured of complete assistance and that the relevant papers would be handed over once the board of the company met.

The joint team, which is likely to return on Sunday after their week-long stay in Milan, had also met senior officials of the Italian judiciary including the judge in the case to request for assistance in probing the role of Indians in connection with alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.

This was not forthcoming as they were told that the probe in that country was in a preliminary stage and the arrest of Giuseppe Orsi, chairman of the firm, and Bruno Spagnolini, Chief Executive officer of AgustaWestland, was more of a preventive nature so that they did not tamper with evidence.

Two law firms -- Chiomenti and Grippo -- have been roped in to help in coordinating with the Italian authorities for getting documents and other relevant material pertaining to the AgustaWestland deal for supplying 12 helicopters to India.

It has been alleged that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore were allegedly paid to swing the deal in favour of AgustaWestland.

The joint team comprising a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary-level officer of the Ministry and an official of the External Affairs Ministry has been camping in Milan to gather as much inputs as possible.

The team is likely to meet some more officials in connection with the alleged kickbacks.

The two law firms have been appointed keeping in mind their work in international cases. Chiomenti law firm was established in 1948 and has 270 attorneys in six countries including in London. Grippo law firm with 360 attorneys has a presence in five countries including the UK.

The CBI's decision to send a team to Italy came after it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting information required for its probe.

The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a political storm in the country. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which, the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.

This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, they said.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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